Nation's Building News Online: October 13, 2003

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Habitat Program for Endangered Species Found Lacking By GAO

A report from the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) criticizes the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) for failing to explain the process it uses to determine critical habitat for endangered species.

“This report is a very public acknowledgment of a serious problem that the home builders have been pointing out for years,” said NAHB President-elect Bobby Rayburn. “The Fish and Wildlife Service can’t hide now. It’s time for them to put together sensible, fair and understandable policy.”

The report — “Endangered Species: Fish and Wildlife Service Uses Best Available Science to Make Listing Decisions, But Additional Guidance Needed for Critical Habitat Designations” — was written in response to growing criticism of, and legal challenges to, the Service’s critical habitat program.

The FWS announced in 1999 that its system for designating critical habitat was not working and that it would develop guidance on the designation process, the report notes. “However, such guidance and clarification were never issued, and the Service continues to follow the same system that it recognizes is unworkable.”

A long-time advocate of developing a more sensible policy on critical habitat, NAHB provided feedback to the GAO for inclusion in this report.

The association is continuing to work with FWS, as well as the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), which has regulatory authority to protect endangered or threatened fish, such as salmon, that migrate between inland waters and the oceans.

“Nobody likes the policy as it is now,” Rayburn said. “It’s a black box — information goes in, a designation comes out, but nobody outside of the Fish and Wildlife Service knows how they arrived at the decision. All of the stakeholders want a designation process that is predictable.”

“If the Service does not take proactive steps to clarify the role of critical habitat and how and when it should be designated, we believe it will continue to have difficulty effectively managing the program,” the GAO report states.

To read the report, click here.

Building News Coast To Coast

Tile Gains Popularity in the Home Decorating World

More and more home owners are incorporating tile into remodeling projects in all areas of the house — including the kitchen, bathroom, wine cellar, library, fireplace and mud room. Though tile can be costly to install, "Flooring Wall to Wall" host Jeff Wilson believes it offers the best value because it lasts longer than carpeting and needs little maintenance. Tiles are made of everything from marble, glass, stone, leather and cork as well as acrylic or clay with embedded river pebbles or duck eggshells. Today's home owners prefer polished, uniquely shaped tiles and earthy shades.
Scripps Howard News Service (10/06/03) Sergent, Jennifer: www.shns.com

Concrete Carpet: Big Driveways as Welcome Mats

An increasing number of home owners want large driveways to complement their super-sized dwellings; and they are willing to spend $10,000 to $100,000 to achieve an elegant, inviting look. Bigger driveways offer additional parking spaces, serve as status symbols and can give the home owners more privacy. Circular driveways are the most popular, but the size and layout of a property often force landscape designers to turn to parking spurs, courtyards and entry courts instead. According to one industry source, large driveways should make visitors feel welcome, transition them from the main road to the home and function as both a parking area and entryway. A combination of asphalt, concrete, paving stones, Belgian stones, pebble rock, gravel and brick can be used to incorporate these design elements.
Orlando Sentinel (10/04/03) P. G2; Dymski, Gary: www.orlandosentinel.com

State Constructs New Rules for Home Builders and Remodelers

As of Sept. 1, all home builders and remodelers in Texas must be registered with the state and register all projects with the Texas Residential Construction Commission. The panel was recently created to set warranty and performance standards and handle disputes with the help of an independent inspector. "It will cause builders, and their homes, to perform to a uniform performance standard," says Trendmaker Homes Vice President and General Manager Will Holder of the new law. Companies will pay $500 to register and another $30 per new home. Of the commission's nine members, four are registered builders, three are public representatives, one is a licensed architect or certified inspector and the last is a licensed professional engineer with experience in home construction.
Houston Business Journal Online (10/06/03) Dawson, Jennifer: www.houston.bcentral.com/houston

Immigrants Seize on Homeownership

The Census Bureau reports that Asian and Hispanic immigrants who become naturalized citizens of the United States are more likely to become home owners than members of the same racial or ethnic group that are born on American soil. In 2002, 70% of naturalized immigrant Asians owned homes compared to just 57% of native-born Asians; and 63% of naturalized foreign-born Hispanics were home owners compared to 54% of Hispanics born in the United States. The report surprised some experts, but Robert Lang, a metropolitan development and planning professor at Virginia Tech, notes that immigrants are more willing to participate in American society. Lawrence Yun, senior economist at the National Association of Realtors®, adds, "Generally, homeownership in many foreign countries requires a much larger downpayment than in the United States, and many immigrants are surprised by the opportunity."
Washington Times Online (10/08/03): www.washtimes.com

The Driving Factor

In California, scores of home buyers are choosing to live closer to their jobs in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Jose in order to avoid lengthy commutes, spend more time with their families and save money on transportation. Rather than live in the suburbs, a growing number of first-time and trade-up buyers are looking at "in-town" and "transitional" neighborhoods, says Prudential California Realty President John Aaroe. University of California at Berkeley Transportation Research Center Director Elizabeth Deakin confirms, " People will pay a lot for housing in Santa Monica or Brentwood, more than those same houses would be worth further out in the suburbs, because those places are close to major employment centers." According to a study by the Surface Transportation Policy Project, the average U.S. household shelled out nearly 20% of its income in 2001 on car payments, insurance, gas and repairs — an expense second only to shelter costs. High car payments have made it especially difficult for low-income families to set aside money for downpayments or qualify for mortgages, the report concludes.
Los Angeles Times (10/05/03) P. K1; Newman, Morris: www.latimes.com

Builders Urge Cluster Projects: Group Cites Affordability, Preservation of Open Space

Municipalities could boost their affordable housing stock and conserve open space by allowing cluster development, insists the Massachusetts Home Builders Association. Cluster developments have higher densities than traditional projects, but builders preserve a portion of the land in exchange for permission to build more homes per acre. Rather than undertake lengthy legal proceedings associated with such projects, group spokeswoman Diana Pisciotta says builders continue to erect McMansions that are unaffordable for the average buyer. However, the group has penned legislation designed to force municipalities that receive matching grants under the Community Preservation Act — which aims to create low-cost housing and preserve open space and historical sites — to pass cluster zoning laws. Such legislation already is in place in Gloucester, Hopkinton and Framingham.
MetroWest Daily News Online (10/03/03) Brodkin, Jon: www.metrowestdailynews.com

Home Security

Many home buyers choose gated communities manned by guards for the feelings of safety and security they afford. Security guards check identification cards and license plate numbers and deny entry to those who are not authorized, among other duties. Though law enforcement officials believe the presence of security guards helps to reduce crime, most violent acts are committed by residents of the community or by someone the victim knows. Armed with this knowledge, many communities are cutting costs by replacing guards with cameras, which have the added benefit of recording everyone entering or leaving the community and providing valuable evidence in the event of a crime. However, the human element is not completely eliminated, since many communities have someone watching the cameras at all times. In the Silver Lakes Phase IV community in Miramar, FL, for instance, visitors must insert their driver's license into a camera-equipped box so that their photo can be recorded. An off-site dispatcher then checks a permanent guest list or calls the home owner to determine whether or not to admit the visitor. Cameras have proven effective in many communities, but some still prefer human interaction and are willing to pay for it.
Miami Herald (10/05/03) P. 1B; Kripalani, Jasmine: www.miami.com

Just Draw and Pour: Home Building of the Future

University of Southern California engineering professor Behrokh Khoshnevis hopes to automate the home building process using rapid prototyping technology. The system — dubbed Contour Crafting — uses software to design concrete homes and robotic equipment to build and paint them as well as to install plumbing and electrical systems. Khoshnevis' goal is to construct an entire home in a single day, without human labor, and complete developments in just weeks. However, Khoshnevis faces the difficulty of designing a large-scale system for the technology, which already is used in smaller applications such as automotive manufacturing. "For decades we've been doing much more complex things with robotics," he explains. "This is all very simple assembly." He also concedes, however, that the time frame for completing a home by this method depends on how long it takes the concrete to dry. Though builders will most likely oppose automation, Khoshnevis insists that it can resolve the shortage of skilled workers, slash home prices by 50%, minimize waste and accidents and cut construction costs.
Melbourne Age Online (10/05/03) Wertheim, Margaret: www.theage.com.au

Beyond Bamboo: India's Feng Shui

Like the Chinese concept of feng shui, the Indian art of vastu shastra involves the use of spiritual principles in redecorating and redesigning to balance a home's energy. Yoga's move into the mainstream has helped make vastu more popular. While feng shui employs rock gardens, waterfalls and crystals to improve home owners' lives, vastu focuses on "sunrise" and "sunset" colors. Home owners incorporating vastu into their homes also incorporate natural fabrics, wood, pottery, flowers, brass and copper. The growing influence of vastu can be seen at Fairfield, IA-based Maharishi Global Construction, an architectural and development consultant firm specializing in the practice. The firm advised on the construction of $90 million of residential and commercial properties last year, up from $13 million in 1999.
Wall Street Journal (10/03/03) P. W12; Boncompagni, Tatiana: www.wsj.com

Voting With Their Feet

According to Wood Flooring Manufacturers Association Technical Director Mickey Moore, hardwood flooring sales rose 90% from 330.2 million board feet to 627.5 million between 1995 and 2002. Manufacturers agree that hardwood floors boost home values. By one estimate, from Kentucky-based Monticello Flooring & Lumber Co., they enhance resale values by $7,000 to $10,000.
Realtor (10/03) Vol. 36, No. 10, P. 22: www.realtormag.com

Investing in New Technology Can Yield Big Returns

Businesses that learn how to use technology to make their operations more efficient and productive will see huge returns on their investments. Technology can facilitate communication between companies and their customers, which leads to strong business relationships and more loyal customers. However, businesses must not use Web-based tools as a replacement for direct interaction. In order to remain competitive, companies must be willing to change the ways in which they conduct business. Those who put off technology purchases could weaken their bottom lines and lose their competitive edges.
Cincinnati Business Courier Online (10/06/03) Faulkner, Crystal: www.cincinnati.bcentral.com

Changing Accounting Systems Doesn't Have to Bog Down a Business

Growing companies often look to upgrade their accounting software and financial systems when their volume of transactions becomes a burden for their accounting systems. Companies look to make a change when their accounting staff is no longer able to perform their duties as efficiently because computers are bogging down, and when it takes employees more time to enter transactions and print reports. However, with the emergence of introductory accounting packages like Peachtree and QuickBooks over the past five years, companies have access to products that are able to handle more transaction volume than ever before. Companies continue to upgrade their accounting systems, but rather than focusing on transaction volume capabilities, they now are looking for products that offer sophisticated financial information — such as greater visibility into inventory controls, better cash management, job cost and profitability analyses — to improve their overall operation. When embarking on a project to upgrade accounting systems, companies should not expect the new accounting software to produce accurate financial information; companies will have to address this problem before the conversion. Managers should keep in mind that it might not take six months to install new software, but it will take at least that much time to get the system performing at its peak level, which means expectations of efficiencies and productivity gains should be adjusted accordingly.
Houston Business Journal Online (10/06/03) Wilkinson, Jim: www.houston.bcentral.com/houston

Register for Fall Construction Forecast Conference

The country's foremost economists will assess the current state and future direction of the nation's economy and housing industry at NAHB's Construction Forecast Conference on Wednesday, Oct. 22, in Washington, D.C. To register, click here.

OMB Proposal Aims for Sound Scientific Basis for Federal Regulations

Under a proposal by the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the nation’s home builders could get a break from having to contend with regulations that are based on shoddy scientific research.

OMB Proposal Aims for Sound Scientific Basis for Federal Regulations

Under a proposal by the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the nation’s home builders could get a break from having to contend with regulations that are based on shoddy scientific research.

The OMB proposal would require all scientific studies used by federal agencies to make regulatory decisions — including everything from environmental protection to energy efficiency to occupational safety and health standards — to be reviewed by independent experts to ensure that they are valid.

Ensuring that all new regulations are based on sound science and adequately justified by scientific findings has been a top goal of NAHB’s advocacy efforts.

Under the peer reviews proposed by OMB, experts in a given field would rigorously review and critique the scientific methods, assumptions and conclusions of others in their field.

While a good deal of the science behind important governmental policies is currently submitted to peer review, that process often lacks adequate independence and it can be difficult to see how a study arrives at its conclusions, according to Bruce Lundegren, regulatory counsel for NAHB.

The OMB proposal would supplement the Information Quality Guidelines issued by the office last year, which encourage but do not require peer review.

These “Data Quality Guidelines,” as they are commonly known, establish quality standards for all information “disseminated by the federal government.” All information published, released, used or relied on by federal agencies must meet rigorous new quality standards before that information can be released.

Higher quality standards apply to influential information that affects important public policy or private sector decisions. The public also has the right to challenge information that does not meet these standards.

In addition to peer review of scientific information that is used to determine regulatory policies, OMB has now proposed much more rigorous requirements for “especially significant regulatory science.” This would include studies that support major federal regulations, including those that are likely to have an annual economic impact of $100 million or more, have significant interagency interest or support important White House priorities.

Studies that fall into this “especially significant” category would have to include a plan for the peer review of information well in advance. Federal agencies would have to plan for the selection of peer reviewers, establish their qualifications and specify the panel’s charge.

The process would also be required to allow for public review of, and comment on, both the peer review plan and the information that the panel will review.

Finally, the agency would be required to issue a report at the conclusion of the peer review process summarizing the findings of the panel, whether and why the agency agrees with those findings and how the agency addressed any significant disagreements.

The OMB proposal on peer review was published in the Federal Register On Sept. 15. For additional information, e-mail Bruce Lundegren at NAHB, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8305.

Housing Snapshot

All eyes are trained on the employment picture, and the stock market apparently has liked what it has seen over the past week or so. According to the Labor Department on Thursday, new applications for jobless benefits during the week ending Oct. 4 dropped more than expected, dipping to their lowest level in eight months, and Wall Street demonstrated its approval by pushing stocks above the 9,700 threshold. In the current environment, favorable economic news spells higher mortgage rates and the cost of fixed-rate loans nudged up. Still, economists at Freddie Mac expect mortgage rates to linger in the 6%-6.25% range for the next year even as the job market revives, largely because inflation will remain remarkably low.

Mortgage Interest Rates

30 Year Fixed Rate: 5.95\%
15 Year Fixed Rate: 5.26\%
1 Year ARM: 3.69\%

Housing Starts: Aug. 2003

Total: 1.82 million\%
Single Family: 1.48 million\%
Multi Family: 344,000\%

New Home Sales: Aug. 2003 *

1.15 million

Existing Home Sales: Aug. 2003 *

6.47 million

* Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate

White House Pressure Delays Consideration of Bipartisan GSE Reform Bill

Consideration by the House Financial Services Committee of regulatory restructuring legislation for the housing government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs), Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, was delayed last week by White House pressure.

The committee had been set to begin marking up a draft of proposed legislation under which the Department of Housing and Urban Development would retain oversight of the goals and programs of the two secondary market institutions.

The legislation would also create an independent regulator at the Treasury Department to oversee the financial health of the GSEs.

However, the White House stepped in to reassert its support for its original plan, under which oversight of both programs and safety and soundness would go to the Treasury, an agency with little experience in housing policy. Under the White House's blueprint, HUD would only retain the responsibility for housing goals.

“Virtually the entire housing industry has come together and formed a consensus with bipartisan leaders in the House on how to enact meaningful regulatory overhaul of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac,” said Jerry Howard, NAHB’s executive vice president and CEO.

The consensus legislation drafted by the House Financial Services Committee, he said, “would protect their financial health and enable them to continue to provide liquidity and mortgage credit to get home owners and renters into decent housing at the lowest possible cost.”

“The Bush Administration should acknowledge this collective decision and allow this vital legislation to move forward,” he said.

White House spokesmen last week alleged that the Treasury Department’s ability to borrow money from the public could be impaired unless the agency received blanket approval over the business activities of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Howard called that a “scare tactic” and a “false argument.”

“When the entire housing industry is telling you, and leaders in Congress are signaling you, that the current draft legislation contains adequate safeguards, you should pay heed,” Howard said.

“The bill in the House Financial Services Committee has broad support and offers a regulatory solution for our secondary market institutions that would reaffirm our national commitment to housing,” he said. “The White House should not stand in the way of this vital bill.”

House Votes to Raise FHA Multifamily Loan Limits in High-Cost Areas

In a move that would help increase the supply of affordably priced housing in urban markets across the country, the House of Representatives on Oct. 7 passed H.R. 1985, the “FHA Multifamily Loan Limit Adjustment Act of 2003.”

A top legislative priority for NAHB’s multifamily builders, the bill would enable a number of high-cost cities to start using FHA multifamily insurance to increase the housing supply for their residents.

Sponsored by Reps. Gary Miller (R-CA) and Barney Frank (D-MA), the bill would give the HUD secretary the discretion to increase the maximum mortgage amount limit for FHA-insured multifamily loans in high-cost markets and boost the FHA loan limits in those areas.

Currently set at 110% above the base limit, the limits for loans in high-cost areas under the new law would be increased to 170% above the base limit.

“H.R. 1985 allows a number of high-cost urban markets that are currently unable to use FHA multifamily mortgage insurance mortgage — such as New York, Boston, San Francisco, Chicago and Los Angeles — to be able to start increasing the supply of much-needed quality affordable housing for America’s working families,” said Jerry Howard, NAHB’s executive vice president and CEO.

During debate on the House floor, Rep. Frank cited the important role that NAHB played in moving the bill through Congress. “I would also like to acknowledge the role that the National Association of Home Builders played in helping educate all the members (of Congress) to the importance of this and to the benefit which we will all receive from it,” he said.

The FHA multifamily mortgage insurance program is a critical source of financing for affordable multifamily rental housing. Raising the limits in high-cost markets, where construction costs are significantly higher than other areas of the country, is important because it will enable developers there to take advantage of the loan programs, said Rep. Miller.

Rep. Frank also noted that the legislation “has the unusual aspect of probably helping to reduce the federal deficit. FHA premiums, given the repayment rate, particularly when we are dealing at this end of the spectrum, make money for the federal government. So if this has any impact on the federal budget, it will be a directly positive one, not simply an economic activity that will be generated, that housing will be built, but specifically in the collections that will come from the FHA.”

Companion bill S. 1714, introduced by Sen. Jon Corzine (D-NJ), is pending in the Senate.

Eye on the Economy

David F. Seiders, NAHB Chief Economist
Housing has been heroic through both recession and recovery …

We’re now about 23 months into the current economic recovery, following the national economic recession that consumed much of 2001. The performance of the housing sector during the entire recession-recovery period has been nothing short of heroic, and recent numbers show that we’ve still got strong forward momentum in home sales, housing starts and house prices.

Indeed, it's now virtually certain that sales of both new and existing homes will hit new records in 2003, as will the volume of residential construction activity.

Housing has provided triple-barreled support to the U.S. economy …

With respect to housing’s role in the overall economy, it’s noteworthy that the housing production component of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) — residential fixed investment — held firm during the recession and has grown at an average annual rate of 7.4% since the beginning of 2002. By contrast, overall GDP contracted during the recession and has grown at an average rate of only 2.7% during the recovery so far. This means that housing’s direct contribution to GDP growth during the first six quarters of recovery was quite large (one-eighth of the total), and that pattern is sure to be evident in the third-quarter GDP report as well. And since housing production naturally stimulates other closely-related parts of the economy, such as the markets for furniture and appliances, it’s clear that housing has been powering more than one-fifth of the U.S. economy.

But that’s not the end of the story. Unlike the overall economy, where positive growth of GDP has coincided with systematic net losses of payroll employment since the recovery commenced, the growth of housing production has been generating systematic net gains in residential construction employment. For example, in July, residential construction employment was up 5.6% from a year earlier while total payroll employment was down 0.3%. This direct contribution to job growth really has helped the overall economy limp through the early stages of recovery.

Housing has been supporting the U.S. economy through a third channel as well. Strong increases in house prices have been bolstering the market value of the owner-occupied housing stock, benefiting 68% of all American households. This has provided home owners with large amounts of housing equity that have been used to support spending on remodeling and consumer goods in general (a lot of equity is accessed through mortgage refinancings, home equity loans and turnover of the existing housing stock). Indeed, the market value of homes hit a record $14.1 trillion at mid-2003 and equity in homes (market value less mortgage debt) stood at $7.6 trillion at mid-year — constituting a huge potential source of support for household spending and the overall economy.

Financial market conditions are once again friendly to housing …

The gyrations in long-term interest rates since June certainly have been a source of concern for the interest-sensitive housing sector. Rates on Treasury and corporate bonds, as well as on mortgage-backed securities, have been whipsawed by shifting sentiment regarding the condition of the U.S. and global economies, the inflation/deflation outlook and the prospects for monetary policy management by the Federal Reserve.

The bond markets now seem to be settling down, zeroing in on expectations for economic growth, inflation and the Fed that hopefully will hold long-term rates close to current levels for several quarters. NAHB’s current forecast shows 10-year Treasury rates around 4.2% until next spring (quarterly average basis), and that should hold the long-term mortgage rate close to 6%. With respect to the Fed, our forecast now shows stable policy until the fourth quarter of next year (rather than mid-year), and that will keep the bank prime rate at 4% until this time next year.

The key missing link to the recovery/expansion process still is the job market …

While the housing sector has been generating positive job growth all along, overall job growth has been negative during the recession-recovery period and the level of payroll employment now is about 1 million below the level at the start of this worse-than-jobless recovery. While the combination of positive output growth (GDP) and shrinking jobs may be good for those with jobs as well as for corporate profits and the stock market, the job market must get it in gear very soon to help the economic expansion gather more strength and to keep the housing numbers at elevated levels.

Rapid growth in labor productivity (output per hour) continues to plague hiring, and it’s very difficult to know how long the productivity surge will be maintained. There was some good news in the employment report for September, but it’s too early to declare the beginnings of systematic job growth in the U.S. economy. While NAHB’s forecast still shows emergence of positive job growth in the fourth quarter of this year, we’ve trimmed the rate of payroll job formation through mid-2004 and reduced the rate of decline in the nation’s unemployment rate as well. These adjustments were coupled with cuts in projected inflation and long-term interest rates, leaving a palatable combination of factors for the housing sector.

The long-term housing outlook looks very good …

We’ve recently revised NAHB’s long-term housing outlook, i.e., the outlook beyond the current cycle. The key factors for the long-term forecast are net household formations, replacement needs and housing vacancies (including second homes). Household formation is the dominant force and that’s driven by population growth and changes in the age structure of the population. The major uncertainty here is net immigration, a factor that the Census Bureau underestimated in the 1990s and may have underestimated in projections for this decade as well.

The Census Bureau’s “middle” immigration projection supports a 10-year forecast of 1.82 million new housing units per year (including manufactured homes) while the “high” immigration projection supports a forecast of 2.1 million units. Based on recent immigration numbers, it seems reasonable to expect an average of about 1.9 million units for the next 10 years. If achieved, this performance will exceed both the 1980s and 1990s and approach the robust performance of the 1970s.

NAHB Chief Economist David Seiders analyzes the economy from the point of view of the housing market every other week in the free e-newsletter, “Eye on the Economy.” The preceding is a reissue of his Oct. 8 edition. To subcribe to “Eye on the Economy,” click here.


Want more economic information? Find it in our publications.

Find more in-depth information in our three economics publications, Home Builders Forecast, Housing Market Statistics and Housing Economics. All are availaible by subscription. 

  • Home Builders Forecast includes analysis of single-family and multifamily residential activities, residential remodeling and the full range of nonresidential construction as well as the macroeconomic factors such as GDP, employment and interest rates that drive construction. If your business depends on reliable estimates of housing starts, construction spending and remodeling activity, Home Builders Forecast is designed to meet your needs.
  • Housing Market Statistics contains an overview of important developments and trends that serves as an executive summary of the current industry situation. It also contains annotated charts depicting movements in key indicators and tables providing monthly, quarterly and annual data for more than 250 variables.
  • Housing Economics provides a rigorous monthly overview of the economy, along with monthly data for more than 100 local markets and in-depth analyses of the niches and nuances of home building markets. Available online or in print, it is written in terms that builders, manufacturers and housing finance professionals can understand and apply to their own businesses.

To learn more or to order any of these three NAHB economic publications, visit the Economics Publications Information section of the NAHB Web site or call 800-223-2665.

Register for NAHB's Fall Construction Forecast Conference

NAHB will host a one-day-only Construction Forecast Conference at the National Housing Center in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, Oct. 22. The country's foremost economists — including NAHB Chief Economist David Seiders — will assess the current state and future direction of the nation's economy and housing industry. Their perspectives will help give you an edge over the competition.

Get more information or click here to register online. Or contact the NAHB University of Housing at 800-368-5242 x8338.


Want more economic information? Find it in our publications.

Find more in-depth information in our three economics publications, Home Builders Forecast, Housing Market Statistics and Housing Economics. All are availaible by subscription. 

  • Home Builders Forecast includes analysis of single-family and multifamily residential activities, residential remodeling and the full range of nonresidential construction as well as the macroeconomic factors such as GDP, employment and interest rates that drive construction. If your business depends on reliable estimates of housing starts, construction spending and remodeling activity, Home Builders Forecast is designed to meet your needs.
  • Housing Market Statistics contains an overview of important developments and trends that serves as an executive summary of the current industry situation. It also contains annotated charts depicting movements in key indicators and tables providing monthly, quarterly and annual data for more than 250 variables.
  • Housing Economics provides a rigorous monthly overview of the economy, along with monthly data for more than 100 local markets and in-depth analyses of the niches and nuances of home building markets. Available online or in print, it is written in terms that builders, manufacturers and housing finance professionals can understand and apply to their own businesses.

To learn more or to order any of these three NAHB economic publications, visit the Economics Publications Information section of the NAHB Web site or call 800-223-2665.

Enforcement of Storm Water Permit System Becoming Overly Zealous, Builders Charge

As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) steps up enforcement of its storm water permit system, builders and developers are encountering increasingly rigorous permitting and record-keeping requirements as well as overly harsh penalties for relatively minor infractions.

Construction site operators who disturb one or more acres of land that has water running off it are required to obtain from the state or the EPA general permit coverage authorized under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES).

To obtain coverage, before they start a project construction site operators must submit a Notice of Intent and develop and implement a Storm Water Pollution Prevention plan that uses the appropriate Best Management Practices to minimize the discharge of pollutants from the site.

“NAHB is concerned that the stepped-up enforcement activity is more focused on letter-of-the-law technicalities than on the actual effectiveness of storm water management efforts that are the intent of the law” said NAHB President-elect Bobby Rayburn.

Enforcement of the program by the EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance can bring fines as high as $31,500 per day.

For more information about how to comply with the permit program, click here to reach the Construction Industry Compliance Assistance (CICA) Web site, which is sponsored jointly by the EPA and several construction industry trade associations, including NAHB.

“We’re not against enforcement,” Rayburn said. “But enforcement should be reasonable and fair, and any penalties should be commensurate with the environmental damage done. Hefty fines for record-keeping violations and other technicalities don’t help anybody.”

Also of concern to NAHB are the enforcement activities of the U.S. EPA in states that manage their own storm water permit programs. Builders and developers are being subjected to enforcement actions from federal and state authorities that may have different standards and criteria for satisfying storm water management requirements.

“If the EPA is dissatisfied with the enforcement standards of a state, then they should work it out with the state,” Rayburn said. “It is inappropriate to expect builders and developers to operate under conflicting and contradictory enforcement authorities.”

For more information from NAHB about storm water management techniques, the general permit program, enforcement and other storm water management issues, click here.

Profits Start With a Good Estimating Program, Salt Lake Contractor Says

For four days a year, Alma Jessop, a general contractor from Salt Lake City, gets to do something he really loves — demonstrating BuilderBooks.com's EstimatorPRO™ software program at the International Builders’ Show.

To the thousands of visitors who stop by to hear his presentation, Jessop gets to describe his own success stories using EstimatorPRO.

A bad estimate could mean you start losing money the minute you start the job, Jessop tells convention-goers, and that’s why he keeps driving home one point: good estimates are the way to ensure good profits on every single job and EstimatorPRO .0 is the solution.

The Microsoft® Excel-based estimating spreadsheet template is designed for those who require powerful estimating capabilities. It can be learned in just minutes and can be easily customized.

EstimatorPRO enables detailed estimates for an average house to be completed in as little as 90 minutes, which is up to 12 times faster than traditional estimating methods.

Its integration with Quickbooks Pro® (2002) now allows users to post items to category accounts, add vendors automatically and post purchase orders and change orders quickly and efficiently.

The program’s author, Jay Christofferson, is an expert in Microsoft Excel and a general contractor. He heads up the Construction Management program at Brigham Young University.

“I’ve been using EstimatorPRO for about four years,” Jessop says during his demonstration sessions at the convention. “Before, I was looking at a long list of estimating programs available out there. There’s a ton of them. I was really close to spending $10,000 on an estimating program.”

But the first time Jay Christofferson showed him EstimatorPRO, “I said, ‘Just give me the mouse, give me the mouse,’ and pretty soon I was sold,” says Jessop.

“Jay’s designed this thing for easy navigation, to give you detailed estimates and do complex calculations,” he adds. For NAHB members, the cost is around $700.

“Even if you’re good in Excel, how much time would it take you to design your own estimating program?” Jessop asks. “Couldn’t you make $700 building houses in less time than it would take you to come up with an effective estimating program?”

“And quite frankly, I would be ahead thousands and thousands of dollars if I’d had a program like this six years ago.”

Jessop is president and owner of L.A. Custom Homes in Salt Lake. Working in the building industry for more than 19 years, his company is well known for creating beautiful custom homes that are consistently brought in on time and on budget.

Jessop will next be introducing EstimatorPRO to builders and remodelers at the International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas in mid-January. He will be at NAHB OnSite, which is located next to the BuilderBooks.com store.

EstimatorPRO is published by BuilderBooks.com, which has served the home building industry for more than 25 years as the professional publishing division of NAHB. BuidlerBooks.com develops books, brochures, software and other materials for the residential and light commercial industry. For information on this and other products, click here.

Maximize Profits by Cutting the Fat From Your Overhead

Michael Payne, president of Payne & Payne Builders in Chardon, OH, always knows how much money he needs to make each year to break even. And if he hits a major downturn, he knows how to adjust his business accordingly. Here’s his method for managing overhead and maximizing profits:

First, determine your business’s absolute bottom-line fixed costs (the minimum you have to spend to keep your business alive). Then, using your gross margin percentage, calculate the gross sales you need to break even:

Break-even dollar volume =

 Fixed Costs

 e.g. $ 508,000

= $ 2,822,222 

 

 Gross Margin %

 18 %

 

Of course, you want to do more than break even. To boost your profits, take a hard look at your current actual overhead. Is each cost and additional dollar worth the sales you must generate to support it? What could you cut if sales failed to meet expectations? Here are some pointers:

  • Business-related travel. “I serve on the board of directors of both my local association and NAHB,” says Payne. “These are gifts I’m giving back to the industry, but they’re not necessary for business survival. If things got really bad, I’d probably cut back on traveling to some of the meetings.”

  • Office supplies. Despite the proliferation of computers and back-office software, you’re always going to need things like pens, paper, file folders, paper clips, etc. But do you need to order so much at a time? Tie your spending to actual need. You may lose a volume discount by not buying items in bulk, but you’ll be spending less money on smaller packages.

  • Subscriptions. It’s good to read a variety of business and industry publications to stay informed, but not if subscribing to them eats into your profits. “This is nickel-and-dime stuff, but the pennies really add up,” says Payne. Try reading some publications at the library or on the Web — provided there’s no online subscription fee.

  • Phone lines. Do you really need six of them? Could you get by with two or three phone lines instead? Probably.

  • Cell phones. “These tend to get wasted,” says Payne. “There’s no reason why people can’t make calls before they leave the office and after they return from the job site.” Cut cell phones out of your overhead and you’ll probably save a couple hundred dollars a month.

  • Marketing expenses. If you run large ads, consider reducing the size or frequency with which they appear. Similarly, cut down on the frequency of mailbox stuffers or direct-mail pieces.

  • Office space. If things get really bad and you’re thinking about getting rid of your office and working out of your garage or your bedroom, consider working out of one of your models instead. It’s a better way to separate your personal life from your business, and besides, you’re already maintaining the model and paying for its utilities.

After you’ve figuratively cut the fat out of your overhead, determine what your break-even dollar volume would be if you had fewer fixed costs. The difference between that and your current break-even dollar volume tells you the range of fixed costs you have to play with.

Get familiar with your overhead by examining it regularly. That’s what Payne does when he receives his income statement and balance sheet each month. It’s a lot smarter and easier to let your sales drive your fixed costs, not the other way around. Builders have more control over overhead than sales volume. Sales often depend on many factors beyond your control.

Payne’s “bucket theory” is another way of looking at it. “Every business is a bucket,” says the builder. “Whatever’s in the bucket, those are your assets. The spigot delivers your sales and the holes are your overhead. How many holes can you plug?”


BuilderBoorks.com Offers 'PRO Builder: Business Planning' Guide

Business planning is the bedrock of a valuable, profitable company. "PRO Builder: Business Planning" offers step-by-step exercises and proven methods for establishing your company’s goals, developing strategies, setting priorities and evaluating results. It includes an electronic spreadsheet for developing the financial section of your business plan. To view or purchase this publication, click here, or call 800-223-2665 to order.

BuilderBooks.com also offers a variety of other publications about business management. To view or purchase these publications online, click here.

Want more information about effectively managing your business?

NAHB’s Business Management Department offers a variety of online resources to help you run your business better and more profitably. Click Business Management Tools for articles about human resources, financial management, sales, production, technology, customer service and other business-related topics. In addition, visit the NAHB Software Users Network Discussion Forum (SUN) to ask technology consultants and other builders what they think of various software packages and applications.

Subscribe to NAHB’s Business of Building e/Source

NAHB’s Business of Building e/Source is your monthly electronic guide to the hot issues and emerging trends in home building business management. You’ll find practical advice, tricks of the trade and sound business guidance — all delivered monthly, straight to your desktop, in a quick and easy-to-read format. Business of Building e/Source is available free to NAHB members and their employees. To subscribe, click here on the members only side of www.nahb.org.

University of Housing Offers Courses on Customer Service and Business Management

The NAHB University of Housing offers a course on business management designed to help builders improve their business and profitability. For a list of current offerings, click here.

Pillars of the Industry Application Deadline Approaching

Just three weeks remain to enter NAHB Multifamily’s prestigious Pillars of the Industry Awards competition. Applications to enter are due by Nov. 3, and completed entries are due back Nov. 10.

Builders, developers, owners and architects can enter their projects in the Builder category, and there is a Marketing category for recognition of outstanding promotional campaigns.

There are also opportunities to win recognition for individuals, in categories such as Builder of the Year, Management Company of the Year, RAM of the Year and HCCP of the year.

And for the first time, this year’s judges will select a Project of the Year — and overall winner.

Awards will be given out at a gala dinner in conjunction with the Pillars of the Industry Conference, which will be held at LaQuinta Resort and Club in Palm Springs, CA., March 28-30.

For an official call for entries application form, click here, or call the Multifamily Council at 800-368-5242 x8215.

For more information on the awards, call the coordinators in California at 800-658-2751.

New England, Atlanta Add Local Seniors Housing Councils

During NAHB’s fall board meeting in Boston last month, the trustees of the NAHB Seniors Housing Council unanimously approved the formation of the New England Seniors Housing Council and the Atlanta 50+ Council. This brings the number of local Seniors Housing Councils to six. The other councils are in Southern California, the Maryland/National Capital (Washington, D.C.) area, Metro Harrisburg, PA, and New Jersey.

The New England Seniors Housing Council was formed by the Builders Association of Greater Boston to provide local resources for NAHB members who are involved in the seniors housing industry in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. The group’s primary goals will be related to education and networking.

Tom Skahen, a partner with Chelmsford, MA-based Seniors Ventures, LLC, and chair of the newly approved council, said that interest in seniors housing is at an all-time high in New England.

“We had around 65 people at our first educational seminar last October, and we expect to sign up at least that many for our council,” Skahen said.

The council is planning to offer two or three educational programs per year. The next one, “Active Adult Trends in New England,” will be held at 9:00 a.m. on Nov. 13, at the Marriott Nashua in Nashua, NH. The council also plans to develop an awards program or standard of excellence for its members.

The Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association, the country’s largest HBA, formed the Atlanta 50+ Council to serve seniors housing professionals in the 11-county Atlanta metropolitan area. A kickoff meeting will be held at 6:00 p.m. this Thursday at The Villa Christina in Atlanta.

Roy Wendt, president of Snellville, GA-based Wendt Builders and chair of the new council, said that he expects the size of the Greater Atlanta HBA and the strength of the seniors housing market in Georgia to ensure the council’s success.

“We’re shooting for 150 members,” Wendt said. “Within two years, we want to be the largest local Seniors Housing Council.”

The council will hold its first program, a panel discussion on “How to Get Involved in the 50+ Housing Market,” on Nov. 18, at the Greater Atlanta HBA’s headquarters in Tucker. Four other programs are planned for next year.

Local Seniors Housing Councils are valuable resources for industry professionals who serve the burgeoning 50+ market. They provide unique opportunities to meet with others who are interested in seniors housing, share ideas for growth and engage in strategic problem-solving.

“The local councils promote an environment of mutual support among members — even competitors,” said L. Earl Armiger, chair of the NAHB Seniors Housing Council and a multifamily builder/developer from Ellicott City, MD. “It’s also the best place to go for specific information on your local market.”

To join the New England Seniors Housing Council, e-mail Catie Ruggiero, Builders Association of Greater Boston, or call her at 617-773-1300 or e-mail Tom Skahen, council chair, at 978-392-6779.

To join the Atlanta 50+ Council, e-mail Monica Saunders, Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association, or call her at 770-938-9900 x1446 or e-mail Roy Wendt, council chair, or call him at 678-344-7508.

For more information on existing local Seniors Housing Councils or to start a local council in your area, e-mail Jeff Jenkins, NAHB Seniors Housing Council, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8292.


Enter Your Design in Seniors Housing Awards Competition

If you have an innovative design for active adult and seniors communities, enter the 2004 Best of Seniors Housing Design Awards competition. Click here to view the call for entries brochure, or e-mail Eucklan Matthews or call 800-368-5242 x8220. The deadline for entries is Nov. 13.

Learn More About Seniors Housing Through the Seniors Housing Council

To learn more about seniors housing or boomers, join the NAHB Seniors Housing Council. The council provides information, education, networking and recognition opportunities for its members and represents NAHB on seniors housing issues. For more details, e-mail Jeff Jenkins or call him at 800-368-5242 x8292.

BuilderBooks.com Has Publications About Seniors Housing

BuilderBooks.com offers a variety of publications about the seniors housing market. To view or purchase these publications, click here and type “seniors” in the search engine.

2004 Seniors Housing Symposium

To learn more about the seniors housing market, plan to attend the 2004 Seniors Housing Symposium, Building for Boomers & Beyond in Chicago from April 14-16, 2004. The symposium will focus on the lifestyle component of 50+ seniors housing.

Walking and Jogging Trails Enhance Active Adult Communities

Choosing the right outdoor amenities package is an important step in the development of any active adult project. The choices range from high-ticket items such as tennis courts and swimming pools to less costly, but equally enjoyable items such as outdoor sitting areas.

However, the No. 1 amenity among active adults is walking and jogging trails. In fact, a whopping 52% of the respondents in a recent NAHB survey said they would be more likely to move into a community if it featured trails, according to "Boomers on the Horizon: Housing Preferences of the 55+ Market" by Margaret Wylde.

Our company opted to include walking trails in the amenities package for Shepard’s Cove, our first active adult community in Kittery, ME. The experience confirmed that pulling off good walking and jogging trails takes more than a clear path and waterfront property. It’s important to start by formulating a strategy.

Decide the Trail's Purpose

The first step in designing a trail system is deciding the trail’s purpose. Different recreational activities require different trail designs. The extent to which trail uses can be mixed depends on your objectives, how many people will be using it and the types of activities you have in mind.

Some activities, such as bicycling or rollerblading, may require a specific surface. On the other hand, activities like snowshoeing can be compatible with a regular walking trail.

Conduct an Inventory of the Property

Examine the project area for natural and constructed features that will enhance or detract from the trail user’s experience. This should identify key places on the property that the trail should connect — such as vistas, fishing areas and boathouses — and fragile areas that should be avoided, including erodible soils, wetlands and historic sites such as burial grounds. Gather this information on a map of the property drawn appropriately to scale.

Carefully Design the Trail

Develop design specifications for your trail based on its intended use. Determine the trail pattern and approximate length, maximum grade and minimum overhead clearance and width standards. Try to develop a trail pattern that connects your points of interest in a closed loop design with a single access point. Loop patterns avoid backtracking and allow you to have more trails in a smaller area.

Incorporate curves and subtle bends into the trail design to increase user interest and make it seem more remote. Using the “lay of the land,” or natural topography, also will help prevent the soil erosion that can result from a straight section. To facilitate natural drainage and increase user interest, frequently alternate grades and directions.

As a rule of thumb, trails ideally should be one-third level, one-third uphill and one-third downhill.

While trail width and overhead clearance standards will vary depending on how the trail will be used, the terrain it traverses and its maintenance needs, a trail corridor normally is cleared to a minimum height of eight feet and a width of four to six feet. Growing vegetation can close in on clearings smaller than that. Wider trails may be necessary where there are overhanging branches that may become bowed by snow or rain.

Soil types affect water drainage and erosion potential and will determine what tread materials can be used. Use soil maps to identify the soil types on the property and to determine their suitability for different uses and tread materials. One type of soil might be fine for a crushed stone or stone dust surface, while another may require a more natural, organic surface material.

Matching the surface material to both the uses intended for the trail and the existing soil types is critical.

Walk the Lay of the Land

Once the research and plan development phase has been completed, it's time to get outside. Walk the proposed trail corridor in both directions. Identify potential problems, such as water crossings, wet soils and steep side slopes, and develop solutions.

Examine trail drainage and vegetative screening. A trail that follows natural contours, gently curving and bending around obstacles and disturbing the site as little as possible is aesthetically pleasing and more enjoyable to travel. It may be necessary to adjust the route several times. Once the final route has been determined, mark the trail with brightly colored flagging tape tied to trees and bushes.

Clear Brush and Debris

Begin construction by cutting brush and small trees flush with the ground to prevent tripping and to reduce stump sprouting. Avoid cutting healthy trees larger than seven inches in stem diameter. Some trees in our area, such as box elder and basswood, may require chemical stump treatments to prevent re-sprouting. Cleanly prune overhanging branches at the branch collar on the tree trunk, or where a branch forks. Scatter branches and other debris off the trail, or pile it for wildlife cover.

Prepare for Construction

For most walking trails, the ideal surface is natural soil free of stones and protruding roots. Natural trails become easily distinguishable and comfortable to walk after a month of regular traffic. A three- to six-inch layer of organic material — woodchips, shredded bark or sawdust — mixed with screened gravels can make hikes more comfortable and reduce soil compaction.

You can obtain these materials at little or no cost from local utility companies, yard waste recycling centers and sawmills. However, this material tends to decay quickly in shaded areas and must be replenished at least every two years.

Vegetative coverings, such as grasses, also reduce soil compaction and erosion, but require periodic resting periods in heavily used areas. Species selection will vary widely depending on lighting conditions and soil types.

Use hard surfaces only for heavily used trails, wheelchair-accessible trails and bicycle paths. These materials can be extremely expensive and difficult to install. They also can detract from the initial goal of providing a natural experience.

Make Your Trails Multipurpose and Multi-Use

One person’s sanctuary is another person's place for a workout. You can promote a wide range of activities using basic trails. You can preserve natural habitat without making the trail unusable for other purposes. Self-guided exercise stations can be provided for people who are using the trail for a workout.

While preparing to launch Shepard’s Cove, our company wanted to take full advantage of a wooded site with more than 3,100 feet of tidal waterfront. We designed viewing areas with benches for watching waterfowl and sunsets and also resting. The trail system connects building pods and other shared amenities such as a clubhouse and a boathouse for kayaks and canoes.

While few will disagree that a natural trail system can be both an attractive and economical amenity for residents, it can also present development pitfalls that — like other components of any active adult community — are best avoided by taking the time to prepare a good design.

This article appeared in the Spring 2003 issue of Seniors’ Housing News, a quarterly magazine of the NAHB Seniors Housing Council. Author Steve Schuster is vice president of development for Chinburg Builders, a custom home builder based on the New Hampshire seacoast. As special projects manager, Schuster oversees the development process in the company’s active adult and historic mill renovation projects. He can be reached by e-mail or at 603-868-5995 x19.


Enter Your Design in Seniors Housing Awards Competition

If you have an innovative design for active adult and seniors communities, enter the 2004 Best of Seniors Housing Design Awards competition. Click here to view the call for entries brochure, or e-mail Eucklan Matthews or call 800-368-5242 x8220. The deadline for entries is Nov. 13.

Learn More About Seniors Housing Through the Seniors Housing Council

To learn more about seniors housing or boomers, join the NAHB Seniors Housing Council. The council provides information, education, networking and recognition opportunities for its members and represents NAHB on seniors housing issues. For more details, e-mail Jeff Jenkins or call him at 800-368-5242 x8292.

BuilderBooks.com Has Publications About Seniors Housing

BuilderBooks.com offers a variety of publications about the seniors housing market. To view or purchase these publications, click here and type “seniors” in the search engine.

2004 Seniors Housing Symposium

To learn more about the seniors housing market, plan to attend the 2004 Seniors Housing Symposium, Building for Boomers & Beyond in Chicago from April 14-16, 2004. The symposium will focus on the lifestyle component of 50+ seniors housing.

Nashville Project CRAFT Students Help Build Habitat for Humanity Homes

The Home Builders Institute's (HBI) Project CRAFT/Nashville joined forces last month with the Middle Tennessee Habitat for Humanity to help build two new homes for single-parent families.

HBI, the workforce development arm of NAHB, was awarded a $1.5 million grant last year by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Youth Offender Demonstration Initiative to bring Project CRAFT (Community Restitution Apprenticeship-Focused Training) to Tennessee.

Project CRAFT/Nashville students have been working with Middle Tennessee Habitat for Humanity since March, building floor systems and helping to finish several homes. The “September 2003 Build” provided the students with their first opportunity to work on a construction job from start to finish.

Working alongside experienced Habitat volunteers, the students were able to put into practice the skills they had learned during their training.

Harry Baird, a volunteer in the Habitat home building effort and a retired GENSECO director of construction, said that, “If it had not been for the CRAFT trainees, our schedule would have been very difficult to keep.”

“If you wish to see how beautiful people really are on the inside, then build a Habitat home with them and your wish will come true,” said one of the CRAFT students who worked on the houses.

“These young men are working hard to rebuild their lives,” said HBI Trustee Jerry Strebel, a Nashville resident and frequent visitor to Project CRAFT. “It is the best of all worlds when they can do so while giving others the dream of homeownership through Habitat for Humanity.”

Project CRAFT’s award-winning combination of community service, skills training and leadership development has been recognized as a model for intervention programs.

Last month, the new online publication, “Aftercare Services”, produced by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), cited Project CRAFT as a model program for youth development.

For more information on Project CRAFT/Nashville, e-mail Dennis Torbett.

Remodelers’ Show Provides Unparalleled Educational Opportunities

The Remodelers' Show — the one event of the year that can make all the difference for remodeling professionals — will present its largest and most comprehensive conference program ever on Oct. 22-25 at the Baltimore Convention Center.

More than 10,000 remodelers, custom builders and residential architects from around the country will attend next week’s show to see the latest products from more than 300 manufacturers, to network with their peers and to learn how to improve their businesses.

This year’s show will offer 76 educational sessions — including pre-show workshops and seminars as well as CGR, CAPS and NAHB University of Housing courses. Courses will be in such areas as business, sales and marketing, finance and kitchen and bath design. Also, demonstration workshops and clinics will provide free "how-to" presentations on the show floor.

Each seminar and pre-show workshop has been assigned a skill level to help ensure that attendees find the information they are seeking. Courses range from "G" (general information) to 100, 200 and 300 for those who have basic, intermediate and advanced levels of experience, respectively.

Attendees can earn Continuing Education Units (CEUs) at The Remodelers' Show from AIBD, ASID and IIDA. Also, for the first time this year attendees will be able to earn AIA credits to fulfill their entire health, safety and welfare certification requirements.

Certified Graduate Remodelor™ (CGR) and CGR PREP courses will be offered by the NAHB Remodelors Council emphasizing business management skills as the foundation of a successful remodeling operation.

Following the success of their debut at last year’s show, Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist (CAPS) courses return to this year’s show with instruction in the skills necessary to tap into serving the remodeling industry's hottest emerging market: home modifications that will enable aging residents to remain in their homes.

For further information on education opportunities and to register for The Remodelers' Show 2003 exhibits and conference program, click here, or call 800-681-6970 to request a brochure and registration form.

The Remodelers' Show is owned by Hanley-Wood, LLC and the NAHB Remodelors™ Council is its official sponsor.

Homasote Manufactures Alternative, ‘Green’ Sheathing

At a time when the housing industry is still reeling from hefty price increases for oriented strand board (OSB) and plywood, even though prices have stabilized and appear to be ready to head down, structural Homasote® board is an alternative material that builders might want to consider.

Based in Trenton, NJ, Homasote Company processes hundreds of tons of post consumer waste paper each workday into structural building products that architects, engineers, designers, specifiers, builders and equipment manufacturers rely on for sound control, insulation, flooring, roofing, interior design, tackability, concrete forming and packaging, the manufacturer says.

The first Homasote® board was produced in 1909. Homasote® was originally used for the roofs of train cars and automobiles and later for military housing during World War I and World War II.

The company describes its 440 SoundBarrier sheathing as “an economical, lightweight, structural, recycled, nailable, mold- and mildew-resistant, sound-deadening panel. It has twice the insulating value of wood and weighs nearly 85% less than lightweight concrete and reduces sound under all finished floors, including hardwood, laminate and other sound-projecting surfaces.”

For further information on the company’s products, click here.

Brochure Explains Selling Points of Duct Systems

A new brochure highlighting the high performance air handling systems that are being manufactured by CertainTeed Corporation's Insulation Group shows builders how to spur home sales by delivering cleaner air and quieter rooms.

Headquartered in Valley Forge, PA, CertainTeed Corporation is a member of the National Council of the Housing Industry — the Supplier 100 of NAHB.

The brochure also contains information on the acoustical and thermal properties of fiber glass ducts and describes a new enhanced surface that is tough and durable and “keeps moisture out and comfort in.”

For a free copy of the brochure, call 800-233-8990.

CertainTeed Corporation is a leading manufacturer of building materials, including roofing, siding, insulation, windows and patio doors, ventilation, fence, decking, railing, foundations and pipe.

It has approximately 7,000 employees at more than 40 manufacturing facilities across the country.

Mexico Is Focus of International Housing Conference

Builders and building product suppliers looking to tap the lucrative and growing Mexican housing market can get practical advice and make valuable business connections at NAHB’s upcoming International Housing Conference of the Americas. Taking place in Mexico City, Oct. 16-18, the conference is expected to attract key housing industry members from both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Mexico currently confronts pent-up demand for 6 million homes. The market is expected to grow at 4.5% per year, with an estimated value of US$6.7 billion by the end of 2005. Mexico President Vicente Fox has set a goal of meeting the housing needs of 45 million new households by 2030, and Mexican builders plan to build more than a million new low- and middle-income homes a year for the next three years.

“NAHB’s 1st International Housing Conference of the Americas can help U.S. and Mexican companies identify opportunities to help reach Mexico’s housing goal,” said NAHB President Kent Conine.

“Now is the time for members of the home building industry to learn about the Mexican market,” Conine added. “With one-on-one meetings, education sessions and ample networking opportunities, NAHB hopes the conference will pave the way for collaboration between builders and suppliers from both nations.”

Conference sessions will feature industry experts leading discussions on the latest building concepts, housing and design trends, building efficiencies and technologies, green building, building codes and work-site safety, marketing strategies, Mexico's emerging mortgage finance system and more.

NAHB is now accepting online registrations for the event. Click here to register and find more information.

The conference is designed to appeal to a broad range of participants, including U.S. and Mexican builders, manufacturers, suppliers, financial representatives, architects and designers. Attendees will gain valuable information, insights and contacts in the Mexican housing market. To read the agenda, click here; to download a brochure, click here

NAHB has co-located the conference with EXPO CIHAC, Mexico’s largest housing and construction-industry trade show, which features over 500 exhibitors, including more than 70 U.S. companies. It typically attracts over 60,000 visitors.

For additional information, e-mail Matt Monjan or call him at 800-368-5242 x8419.


BuilderBooks.com at EXPO CIHAC, Has Publications in Spanish

BuilderBooks.com will be participating in EXPO CIHAC.  BuilderBooks.com also offers a variety of Spanish language publications. To view or purchase these publications, click here.

Boost Your Marketing Through These Awards Programs

Proud of your work? Show it off and give your marketing efforts a boost by entering one of these awards programs:

  • 2004 Best of Seniors Housing Design Awards. Sponsored by NAHB’s Seniors Housing Council, the annual Best of Seniors Housing Design Awards program honors architectural and interior designs that bring quality, innovation and spirit to the 55+ seniors housing industry. Owners, builders, developers, remodelers, operators, architects, land planners, interior designers and marketing/advertising firms are eligible to enter the competition.

The deadline has been extended to Nov. 13.

Click here for details about the awards and to review the call for entries. To download a brochure with entries specifications and an application, click here. For more information, e-mail Jeff Jenkins or call him at 800-368-5242 x8292.

  • 2003 State & Local Government Affairs Recognition Awards. This annual program provides an opportunity for members and the industry to honor governors, state legislators, mayors, county commissioners and other public officials who create more housing opportunities and a stronger building industry. Sponsored by the State & Local Government Affairs Committee, the program also honors state and local associations' government affairs initiatives and their efforts to promote NAHB's smart growth principles. The nomination deadline is Nov. 14

    Honorees will be recognized at an awards breakfast held during the International Builders' Show in Las Vegas. For entry materials and guidelines, click here. For more information, contact Laura Dooley at 800-368-5242 x8361.

  • 2004 Pillars of the Industry Awards. NAHB’s Multifamily Council invites applications and nominations for its 2004 Pillars of the Industry Awards. Considered the most prestigious awards in the industry, the Pillars awards recognize excellence in multifamily design, development, finance, management and marketing, and showcase future trends and innovation. Paid applications to enter will be accepted through Nov 3.

For an official call for entries application form, click here, or call the Multifamily Council at 800-368-5242 x8215.

Calendar of Events

 DATE

EVENT

LOCATION

Oct. 16-18, 2003 

1st International Housing Conference of the Americas in Mexico

Mexico City, Mexico

Oct. 22, 2003

Construction Forecast Conference — Fall

Washington, DC 

Oct. 23-25, 2003 

Remodelers' Show

Baltimore, MD 

Nov. 2-5, 2003

Building Systems Councils' Showcase 2003

Hot Springs, VA 

Nov. 14-16, 2003 

Custom Builder Symposium 

Orlando, FL 

Nov. 6, 2003

State & Local Government Affairs Conference

Wichita, KS

Nov. 8-9, 2003

National Conference on Membership

Phoenix, AZ

Jan. 19-22, 2004

The International Builders' Show

Las Vegas, NV 

To view more meetings & events information on the NAHB Web site, click here.